Maybe it’s because a lot of organizations are approaching the half-way point of their fiscal year. Or maybe it’s because many marketing and sales leaders have recently had time to reflect on their year to date during a summer vacation. Whatever the reason, we’ve been doing a lot of custom report and dashboard building for our clients lately. To me, it all points to marketing becoming increasingly more strategic for our clients and prospects business operations.
To be clear, these reports and dashboards I’m talking about are outside of standard monthly marketing automation and digital marketing reporting we do in our client engagements. After supporting a number of these projects for clients across all kinds of industries, there have been several commonalities worth sharing as you or a peer think about your marketing (and/or sales) reporting.
- Reporting Should Encompass More than “Just” Marketing Initiatives
Regardless of the business, go-to-market strategy or role marketing plays in supporting business objectives, reports and dashboards have the power to depict an end-to-end journey of a prospect/customer/engagement. Thinking through the role of how marketing supports sales and the overall customer experience will help piece together what kind of touches or data points need to be reported on (ex. # of new leads created, each opportunity stage, pipeline value created per quarter and more). This kind of approach, and supporting processes around it, will only help strengthen sales and marketing alignment. The bottom line: if an organization is only reporting on marketing initiatives, it’s likely only the very top of the engagement funnel is understood.
- Defining and Understanding Annual Targets
Sure, visualizing data in slick charts and nice colours is great, but it only means something if there are clear targets to go along with it. First of all, targets should exist for both marketing and sales functions (both quarterly and annually). For marketing, targets can include new leads generated, leads re-engaged, qualified leads identified and pipeline value generated. For sales, obvious targets include revenue closed (secured), size of deal(s) and average sales cycle length. Having defined targets for both departments will go a long way towards measuring if marketing and sales are a) on track to meet their respective targets and b) helping identify areas of focus.
- The Truth Doesn’t Have to Be Ugly
From time to time reports can reveal hard truths like individuals missing performance targets or marketing not contributing enough value to the business. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing however. Of course we all want to be successful and ideally that success comes easily, but that’s not always the case. These reports can act as insights towards where an organization can apply extra focus to pivot or change strategies. This could potentially turn around a quarter or year. We’re big advocates for testing and learning, and reporting plays a critical role in validating new concepts and approaches. If learning what works is the top priority, learning what doesn’t work isn’t far behind. These insights are relevant factors in understanding if your campaigns and programs are showing initial indicators of success.
- Clean CRM Data Is Key
Of course, all this is for nothing if the data in your CRM is junk. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” If reports are going to matter in your business, the data behind them has to be a) maintained and b) accurate. If you report on the length of your sales opportunities (# of days), ‘Create’ and ‘Close’ dates are critical. Simply put, it comes down to every CRM user following processes and making the extra effort all the time. Everyone is busy and excuses can be made, but the truth is it’s about putting the needs of the team and business ahead of everything else.
I really believe accurate and strong reporting is a differentiator for every business. It can support strategic business decisions, reveal potential gaps in sales funnels, and shape new, impactful business processes. For many organizations we work with, reports and dashboards guide weekly, quarterly and annual sales meetings!
How do your corporate reports and dashboards look? If you need help either defining or building these, we can help. Contact us and let us know how we can help!